Archive for May 30th, 2007

God Loves Weeds

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? At the end of the reading, try to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Tyler Connoley):

It’s a phenomenon that happens in every high school movie, whether Rebel without a Cause, Grease, The Breakfast Club, or High School Musical. The kids in these movies separate themselves into cliques and then police their boundaries to make sure the “wrong type” doesn’t try to join their little group.

In this parable, Jesus makes it clear that God’s realm isn’t like that. As followers of Jesus, we are not to weed our communities, picking and choosing the people who fit and throwing everyone else out. According to this parable, a church that excommunicates people for their sins — real or perceived — is not being the Kingdom of God.

That part is easy to understand (if hard to practice). More troubling, I think, is the notion that some people are “weeds” who will be thrown into the fire at the end of the age. How do we square this with a notion of God’s grace and love? And, knowing this, how do we stop ourselves from cutting certain people off in our minds (you can probably think of some “weeds” in the public sphere)?

First, it’s important to recognize that people are not plants and God is not literally a farmer. Unlike the farmer in the story, God has the ability to transform weeds into wheat, and people have the ability to give up their weed-like pasts for a fruitful future. Jessica Rabbit said, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way,” but that’s not true of you or me, or the “weed” you thought of a minute ago.

Second, God’s time is not our time. We may be tempted to say that certain people are beyond redemption, but God has all of eternity to bring them around. It’s not up to us to decide when the harvest of this parable has arrived. It’s not up to us to stoke the fires. That’s God’s job, and my understanding of God is that the harvest fires will be a long way off (and maybe never), after all other options have been used up.

In fact, isn’t that the whole point of this parable? In the realm of high school musicals, and society-at-large, people are weeded out and thrown away. But, not so in God’s realm.

Thought for the day: Is there someone you consider a weed? Pray for God to help you see her as God does. If a weed is a plant that’s growing in the wrong place, the Kingdom of God has no weeds, because we all belong.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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